Fourth Sunday of Easter – 04.22.18

Christ is Risen, Alleluia! He is truly Risen, Alleluia!

The image of Jesus as a good shepherd doesn’t seem to have the powerful meaning Jesus intended in the gospel today. Shepherds then had a terrible reputation as thieves and outlaws. They raised the animals used in the Jewish temple services, but because of their dirty profession, they were called “unclean” and not allowed to attend the services.

So we have the supreme paradox of Jesus actually calling himself a “good shepherd.” It would have been as shocking then as calling him “the good drug-dealer” or “the good slumlord.” Real shepherds were tough loners, men who fought off wild animals, rescued trapped lambs, ate what they could kill, and slept in the open with their dogs. Contrast this with those pristine pictures we usually see of Jesus as the Good Shepherd—standing there, untouched, tidy, in a blinding white robe with a few peaceful sheep at his feet.

Jesus is the Good Shepherd because he is the only shepherd who has lived our life and cares for us as he does for his own self. “I lay down my life for the sheep.” He is not some untouched icon; he is in there, fighting for us and with us in the grittiest and toughest moments of our lives.

Today on World Day of Prayer for Vocations, we listen as Jesus proclaims our one and only vocation: “Follow me!” We are called to be lovers—of God and God’s children. We are called to use our unique combination of gifts in whatever lifestyle will best allow us to “Follow Him”, be it single, married, priestly or religious life. Follow Jesus by listening well!

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“The joy of the Gospel, which makes us open to encountering God and our brothers and sisters, does not abide our slowness and our sloth. It will not fill our hearts if we keep standing by the window with the excuse of waiting for the right time, without accepting this very day the risk of making a decision. Vocation is today! The Christian mission is now! Each one of us is called—whether to the lay life in marriage, to the priestly life in the ordained ministry, or to a life of special consecration—in order to become a witness of the Lord, here and now. (Message of Pope Francis for the 2018 World Day of Vocations).

A Prayer for Vocations

God our Father, You made each of us to use our gifts in the Body of Christ. We ask that You inspire young people whom You call to the priesthood and consecrated life to courageously follow Your will. 

Send workers into Your great harvest so that the Gospel is preached, the poor served with love, the suffering are comforted, and Your people are strengthened by the sacraments.

We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

May the joy and peace of the Risen Lord continue to bless you and your family in this Easter Season. Say three “Hail Mary’s” every day for vocations in the Church and in our diocese. May God bless you and keep you always in His Love!

Listen to Sr. Donna’s reflective reading of today’s Gospel: 

Joyfully in the Lord,



Rev. Msgr. Edward J. Arnister
Pastor, St. Rose Parish
Belmar, NJ

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